The sacrifice of soldiers | columns

Llast weekend I did something that I have not done in a very long time.

I watched a movie without falling asleep or being distracted. My husband and I decided to watch The Outpost. The film is based on the war in Afghanistan and is based on the 2012 nonfiction book Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor written by Jake Tapper.

With Memorial Day weekend approaching, it felt like the right genre to focus on.

The true story is based on Combat Outpost Keating, a small American base located deep in the valley in Afghanistan surrounded by the Hindu Kush mountains. Combat Outpost Keating – was one of several US Army outposts established in Northern Afghanistan.

Because of the location, Combat Outpost Keating was regarded as a deathtrap and the troops stationed there faced regular Taliban attacks.

In 2009, the base was attacked and almost overrun by Taliban forces.

On the morning of Oct. 3, 2009, soldiers are alerted that hundreds of Taliban fighters have surrounded the outpost. The film tells the story of 53 US soldiers and two Latvian military advisors who battled some 300 enemy insurgents at the Battle of Kamdesh.

The Battle left 27 Americans wounded and 8 dead. The battle became the bloodiest American engagement of the Afghanistan War. Two soldiers each received the Medal of Honor, members of what became the most decorated unit of the 19-year conflict.

The film received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for the battle sequences and respectful depiction of the soldiers.

Which brings me to my point.

The film was a sobering reminder of how many lives have been lost to war and the incredible sacrifice that both soldiers and families endure while serving their country.

It can be easy to feel removed from the reality of this. Even as we watch what is happening in Ukraine, the dangers and experiences of war can be reduced to brief lessons in history class, images on the internet and selective sound bites on the endless cable news cycle.

All of this can make it hard to really comprehend what these soldiers and families go through (documentaries, nonfiction books and movies help with that).

That said, Memorial Day provides us all the opportunity to reflect on those who have served and lost their lives defending our country, democracy and freedom – and their families. For if it weren’t these brave souls, the daily lives that we know could look very differently.


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